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NORMAL - A controversial east-side highway corridor will be included in Normal's comprehensive plan, but City Council members want to be sure other options also are considered.

"I'm not completely convinced this is 'the' corridor, but I'm convinced if we don't identify (the area), it will be gone," said Mayor Chris Koos. "So I'm comfortable doing so, but with an emphasis that this is only an idea."

The council voted 6-1 to approve its comprehensive plan Monday night.

"This is a path in Normal's more immediate growth, so we're protecting the area while the study is done," Councilwoman Sonja Reece said.

But Reece also questioned how long that would tie up landowners. By protecting the land, the town would not allow it to be subdivided or annexed into town.

Normal City Manager Mark Peterson said it is hoped the first phase of the study - which would determine if an east-side corridor was needed and where it might go - would be done in two years or less.

While Councilman Jason Chambers agreed a potential corridor should be shown to forewarn developers, he expressed concern for current owners.

"We can say it's just a study, but people will look at it and say that's what's going to happen," Chambers said. "If we show other options, it really says it's a study."

The 2,500-foot-wide corridor depicted in the comprehensive plan is one adopted by Bloomington City Council for its comprehensive plan. It runs from just south of Towanda at Interstate 55 and cuts over toward County Road 2000 East.

The far east edge runs parallel to County Road 2000 East until about County Road 1300 North, where it begins moving west, eventually crossing Towanda Barnes Road and connecting with Interstate 74 west of Downs.

"I'd prefer to see it farther east and go along a current roadway," said Councilman Parker Lawlis

Paul Russell, executive director of the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, said the location is based on a previous east-side highway study.

"This is one potential idea," Peterson said. "The council would make the ultimate decision."

Councilmen Adam Nielsen said policymakers need to be involved throughout the process and in setting goals.

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